RSS

Does Your Church Use New Media?

Wed, Jul 28, 2010

facebook, Featured, Social Media

No Gravatar

A short update I sent yesterday  sparked a small conversation on Twitter and inspired a blog post by Heather Rast, Market Where Your Audiences Are.

I tweeted this after receiving this text message from Jon Johnson, pastor of my church:

Please don’t forget this Sunday is Food Pantry Sunday. Food is running low and we need to restock. Please bring non-perishable foods this Sunday! You all are the best.

photo of woman texting

The intended recipient list for this text message was probably those of us in leadership known to prefer text messaging or Facebook updates to email. Note that two bits of information are carried in this short message: 1) a reminder of a church outreach that needs attention; and 2) five little words of encouragement: “You all are the best.”

If you don’t have a relationship with our pastor, those words might sound corny or even supercilious. But spend a short amount of time with the good reverend, and you’ll know just how genuine and heartfelt those words are — and therefore, how encouraging.

The Twitter responses and Heather’s blog post made me think of how churches, and other communities of faith, are using new media. Some, like LifeChurch, have thriving online communities and a full library of multimedia resources available for free. Others ignore social media altogether–and risk becoming irrelevant to younger members.

Most are probably like my church, somewhere in the middle. We have a Web presence–not what we’d like it to be yet, but it’s receiving great traffic–and we’re on Facebook. And now we have a pastor who sends text messages. Hurray!

Naturally, I’ve been lobbying for a greater social media presence for several years. We’re a small church and all our efforts are volunteer. But I’ve taught several people how to use WordPress, and I started the Facebook group three years ago–before fan pages existed. Now volunteers are maintaining the Web site and Facebook. Pastor Jon is great at engaging people in online discussions, and he recently learned how to Skype.

What is your church or community of faith doing with new media? Have you encouraged them to start using new communication tools? Better yet, have you volunteered to share your knowledge?

This post was written by:

Connie Reece - who has written 152 posts on Every Dot Connects.


Contact the author

14 Comments For This Post

  1. Gloria Justice Says:

    No. But I sense that it’s just around the corner, because they effectively use e-mail to update us about upcoming events, calls for help, prayer requests, etc. I think I am going to suggest it. (We attend the Salvation Army in a small town in Michigan.)

  2. Connie Reece Says:

    Hi, Gloria. Thanks for commenting. I appreciate the Salvation Army – they do many good works. The text messages would work really well for urgent things like prayer requests or calls for help. It would be easy to have a sign-up list where people could provide their cell phone numbers (confidentially) if they wanted to be contacted that way.

  3. Elmer Says:

    Connie,

    Excellent post about an important subject. Faith communities certainly need to be in social media as should any other group wanting to share their message.

    I’ve been live tweeting our services for almost a year now and we’ve just started posting sermon notes from our Sunday services a couple weeks ago. This past weekend we also set up a Facebook page. We’re not it a huge hurry, we want to build up slowly. We’re thinking about videos and podcasts next.

    In the end, we’re looking to reach out to the community to find people who think our church would be a good fit for them.

    If you’re near Temple, Texas, come visit us online at http://www.vcftemple.org .

  4. Connie Reece Says:

    Elmer, thanks for sharing what your church in Temple is doing. I sure agree with taking it slow when a church congregation starts in social media. Some people are still scared of negative comments or simply don’t know how to use it. Later this year I’m going to be teaching a workshop on Facebook as a community outreach. I’ll share details as we get closer — the date is early October.

    Congrats on the good work your church is doing with social media.

  5. Keith Says:

    I’m a huge advocate for new media usage in Churches. I’ve helped several churches start to utilize Facebook, Twitter, and other services.

    My own Church just recently launched a Mission blog using Posterous and we’ve been really pleased with the results. There is a huge opportunity for Churches to do inreach & outreach with social media.

    Links:
    1) CBCNLR Mission Blog – http://cbcnlr.posterous.com
    2) Social Media & the Church Presentation – http://bit.ly/BeyondtheWallsPrezi

  6. Lani Rosales Says:

    Connie, this is a great topic. As a Catholic, I’m proud to say that the Pope had a YouTube channel years ago and the Vatican said early on that they encourage use of new media by Churches and parishioners to spread the good news (although if you read AdAge, Catholics are closed doored and ignorant to technology).

    That said, many individual Churches don’t have proper new media presences, even ours, sadly. For ours, it’s a matter of bandwidth and organization and requires the people in charge to understand (which can be an uphill battle).

    Interestingly, we consulted on a diocese (not Catholic) on their presence and they were committed to new media but had hundreds of websites and Twitter handles and lacked cohesion. So I see both ends of the spectrum- a lack of use or a complete misunderstanding of use as well as overuse.

    Wonderful topic, I look forward to learning how other faith organizations are using new media!

  7. Connie Reece Says:

    Keith, thanks so much for stopping by the blog and updating readers about your church’s social media outreach. It’s great to see what others are doing.

  8. Connie Reece Says:

    Lani, I really appreciate your insight. You raise a really good point — okay, two. :-) The bandwidth issue is paramount for most churches or faith-based organizations. You need expertise plus volunteers, and the combination is not easy to come by. But you also point out the risk of not having a coordinated presence — people go off and do their own thing. A church could find that parishioners have already created Facebook pages, or a Twitter presence, without any guidance or or oversight, and that can send mixed messages.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  9. Marie Says:

    I too am Catholic and am finding we aren’t as media friendly as many other church communities. I have attended other churches with friends and am always impressed with how involved their pastor and parishioners are. One of my friends pastor sends a Tweet out after each service and then the following week will discuss a condensed version of the responses. They also use multimedia for church, like displaying the Tweets on a video wall so everyone can see what was said incase the pastor didn’t touch base on it. I think incorporating social media and multimedia is a great idea for any church, it all helps people feel a better sense of community; although as mentioned by Lani and Connie there is the downfall of people creating their own pages per say and sending a different message than that of the community. Either way it shows people want to be involved :)

  10. Connie Reece Says:

    Hi, Marie. As much as I advocate for social media, I’m not sure I’d post a livestream of tweets on the wall during service — I’d be afraid some idiot might chime in with some un-family-friendly language. But maybe they use a filter, where only the tweets of certain people are displayed. That I could endorse.

    Few churches are ready for social media during the worship service, but there is so much they can do. I think it’s especially effective in extending the community during the week–keeping people in touch with each other and in touch with the church leadership.

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  11. K.P. Yohannan Says:

    No. for our church as only little members for thay come intensionally and not by media calls. But I think there are some though. Taking advantage of the current technology.

  12. Marie Says:

    Connie thanks for having me. I agree not all churches are ready for social media. Also the church I visited that used Twitter didn’t put up live feeds. They used led video walls to show screen shots of Tweets made earlier in the week by different parishioners, and then spoke about them. So that way the feeds were already filtered, because yes a live feed could be dangerous.

  13. Paul Mahony Says:

    No. Not at the moment but we have plans near future to provide live telecast of activities on computers for older people and take advantage of current technology in this manner.. Nice post, thanks.

  14. nadrafraiche Says:

    Yes, my church is very tech savvy. Our pastor has his own iPad/iPhone and he uses them to deliver his Sunday sermons instead of old fashion printed papers. And our church’s IT department recorded every sermon and posted them online for those church members who couldn’t attend any service due to illness etc. We communicated a lot via blogs/Facebook groups with other church members worldwide. I think new media has help a lot in term of reaching out to the lost and keep every disciple connected everyday, everywhere.

3 Trackbacks For This Post

  1. Peddling Religion? | The Crossing of Marketing and IT Says:

    [...] Connie Reese on her Every Dot Connects blog:  ”Does Your Church Use Social Media?“ [...]

  2. When Churches Keep Quiet: Is Silence Deafening Your Message? « e1evation, llc Says:

    [...] Does Your Church Use New Media? (everydotconnects.com) [...]

  3. When Churches Keep Quiet: Is Silence Deafening Your Message? Says:

    [...] Does Your Church Use New Media? (everydotconnects.com) If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed! [...]